SMOS Mission

Evaluation and Qualification of Fibre Pigtailed Lasers for ESA’s SMOS Mission


Authors: Juan Barbero (Tecnológica, Componentes Electrónicos, S.A.) & Martin Mosberger (Contraves Space)

Evaluation and Qualification of Fibre Pigtailed Lasers for ESA’s SMOS Mission


SMOS Mission

SMOS Mission (Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity).

Payload Module: Microwave Imaging Radiometer with Microwave Imaging Radiometer with Aperture Synthesis (MIRAS).

MOHA (MIRAS Optical Harness):  Connects antennas with the control and correlator unit via a custom optical bus.

Qualification Approach

  • Highest quality level for optical COTS is according to Telcordia standard or similar.
  • Space qualified components not feasible (power budgets) or simply not existing.
  • A full qualification exercise as per ESCC specification not feasible due to time and cost constraints
  • Industry is too fast moving

Strategy for SMOS/MOHA

  • One time Lot Acceptance Testing for this particular mission
  • One flight lot is purchased and tested for its suitability to the particular space application
  • Evaluation phase with two possible COTS candidates for each component (subjected to most critical test, constructional analysis, manufacturer assessment).

Qualification Approach: Procurement Baselines

To reduce qualification effort

  • Procure different parts with as many similarities as possible:
  1. Same optical fibre.
  2. Same pigtail cable.
  3. Same fibre optic connector

Assess willingness of manufacturer to cooperate in the proceeding

  • Willingness to disclose exact processing
  • Willingness to manufacture according to custom requirements (use the supplied fibre, cable, connectors).
  • Willingness to help in failure analysis


Evaluation and Qualification approach:

  • Most manufacturers are not willing to customise their process for a small volume order.
  • Smaller manufacturers show greater interest and higher flexibility to customise their manufacturing and/or disclose the exact processing.
  • A cost effective project qualification approach has been presented.

Qualification tests

  • Optical measurements through fibres are less repetitive than electrical measurements. Optical connectors repetitiveness is lower than for electrical connectors.

Read or download the full report here

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Juan Barbero